What does mediation in Scotland look like? A good place to start is with “Scottish Mediation”.
Set up in 1990, Scottish Mediation is a registered charity funded by the Justice Directorate of the Scottish Government. It is an umbrella mediation organisation which exists, in its own words, to “promote mediation, support and facilitate the development of best practice and to support mediators in Scotland”. It deals with a whole range of mediation – business and commercial, community and neighbour, education (including peer mediation), equalities, family, planning and environment, work place and employment, health, religious and third sector (see more here). Its website is packed with information on what mediation is all about and its newsletter Collaborate is well worth a read. Its annual mediation conference (held in winter each year) is very well attended by members from all corners of the mediation community.
Co-Chairs of the Young Mediators' Group are delighted to sit on both of the committees which support Scottish Mediation's strategic objectives:
· The Committee for Promotion of Mediation champions mediation as one of the essential tools in the resolution of disputes and complaints and promotes peer mediation for children and young people to deal positively with conflict;
· The Committee for Excellence in Mediation supports the encouragement of excellence in mediation practice and in growing and strengthening Scottish Mediation membership and the mediation community. This includes work in around appropriate standards of professional conduct and training for mediators on the Scottish Mediation Register (which Scottish Mediation maintains) and the needs of the consumers of mediation being reflected in the way in which mediation standards are shaped.
Both of these strands of work are critical in modern mediation. Mediation is well-established in many fields of dispute, but uptake remains low in some sectors and it is less well known in others. Work such as peer mediation, which takes place in schools and in other settings with young people, is essential for long terms cultural shifts and in encouraging people how to be constructive in managing conflict. Similarly standards in mediation practice have never been more important. Some commentators, looking at the projected development of mediation and the number of mediators being trained, have expressed concerns about a potential decline in overall standards. Maintaining these and supporting the mediation community will help to gain the confidence of end users of mediation and in turn help more people to deal positively with disputes.
Jane Fender-Allison and Callum Murray
Co-Chairs of the Young Mediators' Group